July 28, 1976 was the day when veteran communist revolutionary leader Com TN, as he was called, died of a sudden illness when he was not even 60. It was the period of Internal Emergency proclaimed (on 1975 June 26) by Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s regime, a watershed in India’s political history. He along with his comrade-associate DV Rao ( the latter known for his stellar role in Telangana People’s Armed Struggle 1946-51) had jumped bail—they were earlier convicted by a Special Court on charges of Conspiracy and Sedition to overthrow the Govt, and went in Appeal to the High Court of Andhra Pradesh against the verdict –and slipped into underground life in July 1975. The UCCRI (ML) was co-founded by them in April 1975 only to be banned three months later by the Govt in July 1975. They were trying to cope with the new situation of Constitutional autocracy when TN got into a sudden, brief illness and died incognito in Osmania General Hospital, Hyderabad, on July 28. It is 40 years since he died, and 2016 marks the 99th year to culminate in his birth centenary next year. A brief Report on his life and work is compiled on this occasion.
TN was born in village Tarimela of Anantapur district of the then Madras Province, now in Andhra Pradesh, on 1917 February 11. His father Subba Reddy was a big, influential, liberal, Congress landlord close to ( future Chief Minister of Madras Province) Rajaji’s camp. Subba Reddy sent his son TN, his nephews Neelam Sanjiva Reddy (later CM of AP and President of India) and Neelam Rajasekhara Reddy (later National Council Member of undivided CPI) and several others to be schooled in Rishi Valley School, Madanapalli, founded by philosopher Jiddu Krishna Murthy (JK) who had visited Subba Reddy’s home and asked for his help in running the school under the auspices of Theosophical Society founded by Annie Besant. The school helped to mould them, despite a rich landlord background, into a life of discipline and studious and hard work like performing his own daily chores including cleaning his room, cooking and washing his own plates and clothes ( which habits continued until his death).
Throughout his schooling , TN was independent-minded and ran into troubles with his teachers , as in Madras Loyola college, and later in Banaras Hindu University where he left his Law course unfinished as one of his Professors warned him that he would never pass him in exams. In his BHU days , he was elected as the President of the Students’ Union, the first one from South India, and led an agitation against a British Education official, Marge Grower, the then vice-chancellor of Delhi University, for his remarks against the freedom movement. Interestingly, Grower complained to Gandhiji against TN, and Gandhi wrote to the Vice-Chancellor S. Radha Krishnan (later President of India) to obtain an apology from TN which he declined to give. The nationalistic Indian Express of those days editorially deprecated students (TN etc) indulging in politics and indiscipline. All that showed the hollowness of the national movement, its media and its leaders, and made TN from a Congress family to opt for Communist Party which he joined around 1939-40.
Similar and simultaneous was the case with DV Rao, who was among student activists debarred by Osmania University, in the Nizam’s princely state of Hyderabad, for having sung Vande Mataram in the University Hostel during late 1938. Some students including DV Rao refused to apologize, tried in vain to get admissions in other universities, including the nationalist Andhra University and BHU, which refused them admission because both the Universities were receiving funds from the Nizam! The students including DV Rao had met Gandhiji in his Wardha Ashram requesting him to get them admissions elsewhere. And Gandhiji said : Yeh bahut kathin samasyaa hai, (It is a difficult problem) and pleaded he could not help. It helped DV Rao seeing through the national movement’s bankruptcy and drove him to join the communist movement in 1939-40. It was coincidental that both TN and DV Rao had similar experiences in universities, had early encounters with Gandhiji during the same period, and both preferred to join the communist movement during the same period. And they henceforth shared revolutionary politics until their last breath. (DV Rao died in 1984 on July 12, also while leading underground life).
All these remind us that the scene has not changed much, given recent developments in campuses.
Back from BHU, young TN wrote a pamphlet opposing the imperialist second world war for which he was jailed where Rajaji, known to his father, advised him to apologize and get released. TN refused to do so. TN like DV Rao, simultaneously but independently, went in to organize peasants into a militant anti-landlord movement, and in the process fought against his own father and kith and kin, thus declassing and ( in effect de-casteing) himself like a true communist. Being in the Rayalaseema Committee of CPI of Madras province, he played an important supportive role in the Telangana peasant armed struggle that was going on in the Nizam’s princely state, that was to bring him later on closer to DV Rao and they worked unitedly and together until they died. It may be mentioned that TN was a delegate to the Second Congress of CPI 1948 in Kolkata which reverberated with slogans supporting Telangana. Later on, TN was regularly elected into the central leadership of the Party. Together, they represented the revolutionary mass line trend of the Indian communist movement and worked to develop the concept of agrarian revolution as the axis of People’s Democratic Revolution in India, which was akin to China’s experience and blazed by Mao’s Thought. Together in 1975 April, they founded with strong ideological foundations, UCCRI (ML) that continued to work 3-4 decades after their death.
Telangana struggle was withdrawn in October 1951 by the revisionist leadership paving the way to the First General Election in 1952. Communist Revolutionary TN was a man of the masses always and thus even from inside the jail, with his background of fighting for the poor peasantry, had defeated landlords’ representative and Congress leader Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, from Anantapur Assembly constituency by a large majority of over 12000 votes. TN was elected as MLA, also in 1962 and 1967, only to resign in 1969. In 1957, he was elected to the Loksabha where he was a colleague of DV Rao. Thus, TN had a long, uninterrupted innings as a parliamentarian and made a mark there too, also as a Member of PAC of Loksabha, with his erudition, deep insight into politics and economics, keen analytical skills and powerful oratory. After he quit parliamentary politics in 1969, he once again organized the landless peasantry into militant land struggles, as part of which people had occupied 3000 acres of banjar lands in Garladinne area of Anantapur Dt, which continue to be with the peasants till date. TN spent long years in jail or underground even after 1947, and died while underground. It was while he was in jail, during 1969 Dec 1972, that he wrote his magnum opus, India Mortgaged, a living classic on India’s political economy, a great application of Marxism-Leninism-Mao’s Thought. Here was a unique and rare leader who was a mass leader and theoretician rolled into one, combining theory and practice which strengthened each other.
Given below are two extracts which throw more light on TN’s illustrious life and work.
Extract 1 : A few words about TN’s life and work.
By DV Rao
( Following is an Extract from the Foreword By DV Rao to the Book India Mortgaged by TN, published in 1978, and reprinted several times later on in English original and Telugu translation. India Mortgaged was originally a Court Statement, made in English, in Feb-Mar 1972, as part of Defence in the famous Hyderabad Conspiracy Case, which had 42 accused including veteran communist revolutionary (CR) leaders TN and DV Rao ( both of them were arrested in Madras in 1969 December and imprisoned) on charges of Sedition and Conspiracy to overthrow Govt etc., under Sec 120 B, 121 A, 122, 123, 124 of IPC. The Case was in the fashion of Kanpur (1924) and Meerut (1929) Conspiracy cases foisted by the British imperialists. This was the first such major case framed by the new ruling classes post-1947. Com TN as well as DV Rao, instead of boycotting the Court proceedings as then advocated by the Left adventurists, wanted to utilize, as a platform to proclaim their views, even the bourgeois courts that they believed were part of the reactionary state. Thus they argued their own cases, prepared detailed Defence statements and presented them to the Special Court. These Defence Statements were later published in book form to serve as classical Handbooks for revolutionaries, as intended by the authors. As Com TN died in 1976 July, DV Rao as the Secretary of UCCRI (ML) took up the task of publishing TN’s work in book form and wrote a detailed theoretical Foreword which also contained as one part of it a warm tribute to his comrade-in-arms. This is a unique piece of writng , a tribute to a veteran revolutionary by his inseparable veteran comrade. DV Rao’s Statement was also published in book form as People’s Democratic Revolution in India—An Explanation of the Programme. These two companion volumes are among the few original and authoritative works that concretely applied Marxism-Leninism-Mao’s Thought to Indian situation and served to educate three generations of revolutionaries across India on the Basic Line of the CRs.)
A few words about TN’s life and work by DV Rao
Comrade Tarimela Nagi Reddy (TN) was born (11-2-1917) in a well-to-do family. He completed his M.A.. and was about to complete Law, when he was arrested by the British imperialists for his revolutionary activities. He was associated with the then existing communist party ever since he started his political activities. He was a good orator, agitator and organiser. He had organised and led many a struggle of the rural poor against the atrocities of the landlords. He has led the underground life during the period of 1947-51 when he was the leader and Secretary of the Regional Committee of Rayala Seema in Andhra Pradesh (then the composite Madras province). The authorities could not arrest him in spite of the best efforts till he himself had come out in 1952. Eversince he was either a member of Legislature or the Parliament, till he resigned from the Legislature of Andhra Pradesh in 1969.
He was always towards the Left in all controversies which arose inside the party. He had finally chosen his place in the ranks of communist revolutionaries, and remained there till the end. He fought against right opportunism and left adventurism and the present work (India Mortgaged) is a product of this struggle. It is not accidental that he was writing an article against revisionism just two days before his death when his pen stopped writing. Such was his glorious revolutionary career.
Silver-tongued orator as he was, his speeches inside and outside the Legislature and Parliament were full of substance. He was well-read and he knew what he was speaking about, which is a rare exception in Indian orators. He had been unparalleled propagandist of communist revolutionary line. He went underground to carry on revolutionary activities immediately after the proclamation of Emergency towards the end of June 1975. While being underground he devoted his attention to strengthen and improve the organisation on an all Indian scale in general, and Andhra Pradesh in particular. He worked for the unity of communist revolutionaries till the end of his life.
He held leading positions inside the party. He was a member of the National Council in the United party. He was the Convener of the Co-ordination Committee of Andhra Communist Revolutionaries. He was the member of Central Committee of the U.C.C.R.I. (M.L.) [Unity Centre of Communist Revolutionaries of India (Marxist – Leninist)], at the time of his death. He took a leading role in its formation.
He worked for Indian Revolution to the last day of his life. The advancing age was no bar to his work as an orator, organiser and writer. His death was sudden and he spent only two days in the hospital. He was conscious to the last minute. We could not save him inspite of the best efforts of the doctors and the comrades attending him. He died on 28th July, 1976, in Osmania General Hospital, Hyderabad, at the age of 59. His loss is irreparable to Indian Revolution and communist revolutionaries.
He loved the people immensely and the people reciprocated it in the same degree. He is known for knowing the pulse of the people, and was acting accordingly. He was one of the architects of communist revolutionary line and he defended it against the campaign let loose by, adversaries.
He was in Indian revolutionary political scene for more than 35 years. He sacrificed what all he had for Indian Revolution. He is the product of the best in the communist revolutionary movement. It is a proud privilege of communist revolutionaries to have him as their leader.
July 16, 1978. Com. DV RAO
Extract 2 : From TN’s Last Speech in AP Legisltive Assembly , 1969 March.
( To Move The People Into Revolutionary Action Is Our Task was the central theme of the speech made by Comrade T. Nagi Reddy in the Budget Session of State Assembly of Andhra Pradesh in March, 1969 even as he submitted his resignation, and bid goodbye to his parliamentary phase of activities as a CR. In this speech, Comrade T. Nagi Reddy, while commenting on the economics and politics of the of State as well as Central Governments, critically reviewed his own experiences of 16 years as MLA and MP, exposed its futility and failure in addressing the basic problems of the people, proclaimed his faith in the revolutionary mass line which he had already adopted. Thus this speech was a significant milestone, a shift away from parliamentary path and tactics of the undivided CPI in favour of revolutionary path signified by Naxalbari and Srikakulam peasant armed struggles of late 1960s, marking a return to the revolutionary politics of Telangana armed struggle (1946-51) that was betrayed by revisionists. This speech was made in Telugu but he drifted into English now and then. The italics is to indicate the English part of the speech.)
The speech begins with these words : We are meeting today in the midst of the extremely serious crisis all-round. We can see it right in Andhra Pradesh. If we keep in our mind that we are in a great crisis not only here in Andhra but throughout India, it will be possible for us to carefully understand all these phenomena.
The speech has various sections with the following sub-headings :
A SEVERELY INTENSIFYING CRISIS AND A GREATER SURGE OF STRUGGLES
THE COMPRADOR RULING CLASSES MORTGAGING OUR COUNTRY TO IMPERIALISTS
THE ANTI-NATIONAL GOVERNMENT: PRIORITY TO DEFENCE
FIVE YEAR PLANS — AT THE MERCY OF THE IMPERIALISTS
SERVILE TO FOREIGN MONOPOLISTS
THE RULING CLASSES PROTECT THE INTERESTS OF LANDLORDS
Then the speech ends with the following extract :
“As an example, let us take the recent two or three years. How many instances of atrocities by landlords and by police have we brought up here, either through our speeches, or call attention motions or adjournment motions? Has, anything been done? Atleast in one instance, has any action been taken? What should I say when I go back to my village? Six miles from my own village, in one village, a landlord beat up a farm servant to such an extent that he was about to die. Then endrine was thrown into (his) mouth and report was made that he died because he drank endrine.
When an ordinary farm labourer is killed, we have never heard any landlord being arrested, never in the history of our society. That will not happen. For that matter, have we ever really enquired into complaints of police atrocities? A hotel worker of Anantapur town was taken to the police station twice (and beaten up) …. even before he could be treated he died. Was it enquired into and any action taken? Such things, countless instances of landlord and police atrocities in West Godavari district, in Khammam, in Kurnool were brought before this House by us. And on not one of them the government was prepared to order an inquiry. Under the circumstances, what should we decide to do? …. Nothing can be done here. The best thing is to rouse the people outside. That is exactly the decision to which I had to come.
There is a movement going on in Srikakulam . Who inaugurated it? On that day (31-10-67) in 1967 when landlords fired on a procession of people going to a meeting and killed two people… And today police are being sent on a massive scale. Special l Armed Police squads are being sent. That day the government did not take any steps whatsoever to immediately arrest the landlords, to break into their houses and take necessary steps. The softness to the landlord class is the very basis of this government, with the result that all classes are coming out in revolt today, may be in a small way in one place and in a bigger way in another place. The revolt, the tendency to revolt is the most evident factor in the whole country. We are not even giving a temporary consolation to them, we are here talking in the Assembly on their behalf. Instead, we are handing over the economy and politics of the entire country to the foreign countries. Neither are we able here to resist the atrocities in the villages, nor are we organizing the people outside for resistance. And thus the people are left to fend for themselves.
UNLESS PEOPLE ARE MOVED, EXPLOITATION AND ATROCITIES DO NOT END
Sitting here in the Assembly for 16 years, could I render the people any consolation by reflecting about these here? Would it even be possible? When I think of this, I find there was no other purpose served, except an attempt at a sort of demoralization. Unless people are moved, unless people learn to stand up to and resist these atrocities on their own, there is no way out. Because I came to the conclusion that there is no other way except this….It is after a serious thought that I decided that I should get out of this Assembly here and now. That is one of the most important reasons. I have tried my level best to bring forward a number of things on various acts of exploitation, immoral and illegal, and nobody could even support in any manner. Nothing could be done. What else could be done? The country is going into a bigger crisis, economic and political. Are we going to leave the people to themselves and ask them to wait on, to see as to what is happening inside the Assembly? When this Assembly has become to my experience just a talking shop, a kind of mockery so far as the interests of the people are concerned what I have decided is a very serious decision after a long life of 16 years of parliamentary democracy in the country in which I have played a part all these years.
Meanwhile, I would like to inform the House also as I leave, that if you think that out of discussions, deliberations and decisions of the House, the situation in this country is going to be bettered, you will be disillusioned just as I have been. There is no doubt about it. If you think that through the proceedings of this Assembly or in Parliament we are going to end the anti-national policies of this government, I am sure you will be disillusioned in course of time just as I have been now. Then what is our duty? The way out for any person to save his own country, is to rouse the people to action against the exploiting and ruling sections of imperialism and landlordism. That is exactly what I had said in my previous speech. It is to do that job that I leave this House and I wish I will be able to devote as much time with vigour as I have devoted my time in this Assembly.
(He concluded his speech thanking the members and the Speaker of the House.)
(Compiled by MK Adithya. He is a media person. See also his write-up on DV Rao published by countercurrents on July 12, 2016.)